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Strabo  Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian

Strabo Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian

Over antiquity, as mentioned by Strabo, Plinius and Nikandros, Samos used to have different names. Some of these names were “Anthemis” or Anthemoussa”, “Fyllis” or “Fyllas” , “Melamfyllos”, “Melanthemos”, “Stefani” , “Pitioussa”, “Dryoussa” and “Kyparissia”. These names that characterize Samos, owe their origin to the island’s abundant verity of flora, thick forests of oaks, pine trees and cypresses constitute the main germination of the island. It used to have also the names “Parthenoaroussa”, “Parthenia” and “Imbrassia” to honor goddess Hera who was the guardian of Samos. According to the legend, Hera was born under an osier (which was her holy plant) on Imvrasso’s riverbank where she met Zeus.

Samos had and the name “Hydrili” because of the abundant flow of water, and Hesychius mention the island with the name “Doryssa”.

It is difficult to define the chronologies that those names had been used, due to the use of the official name of the island as “Samos” in history. They may have been used over the heroic period (1666 BC – 1181 BC).

Kerkis mountain in Samos island

Kerkis the mountain of Samos which probably derives its name

As to the origin of modern name of “Samos” there are mixed views. The first being, is that the name had been given by the first king of Samos, hero of Argonaut expedition, Ancaeus, who immigrated from Sami of Kefallinia. The second view supports the island had been named after his third son, Samos (who was heir to the throne). On that note, “Miletus”, the geographer claims that the name derived from “Sao”, the son of Hermes and Rinis, whilst the historian “Bechort” supports that the name came from the ancient nation Saious which lived on Samos.

Although, the most likely view that supports the origins of the island’s name is that Samos was named after the Phoenician word “sama” that means “high top” because of Kerki’s mountain, with highest top at 1434 m.


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